What Is Dog Counter Surfing and How to Prevent It?

A dog laying on a counter next to a blender

If your dog has a knack for nabbing food off the kitchen, you might already be familiar with the term ‘counter surfing.’

Picture this: you’ve just finished setting out the food on the dining table. You step away to call your family to dinner, only to return and find your mischievous doggo chomping down on the roast chicken. Does this situation ring a bell?

If so, then you’ve unknowingly been dealing with ‘counter surfing.’

To help you out, let’s better understand this dog behavior and, more importantly, discuss effective strategies to prevent it.

Let’s go!

What is Dog Counter Surfing?

Counter surfing refers to when a dog jumps up onto tables, counters, or other elevated surfaces to steal food or objects. Puppies, curious about their surroundings and eager to explore, often exhibit this behavior. However, it can also be observed in older dogs who see the opportunity for an easy snack.

While counter surfing might seem like normal behavior for a dog, it can lead to several problems such as ingesting harmful substances and choking hazards. Therefore, it should be discouraged and stopped.

Why do Dogs Counter Surf?

The first step to preventing counter surfing is understanding the why. Primarily, dogs are opportunistic animals, and having food within their reach triggers natural instincts.

As you might know, dogs also have a strong sense of smell. So, even if your counter is fairly elevated, your dog will be able to catch the whiff of anything delicious placed on it. Also, it’s important to note that even if your dog isn’t hungry, this smell alone can still entice them to jump onto the counter.

One of the other reasons for counter surfing could be boredom. If your dogs don’t have enough mental and physical stimulation, they might decide to entertain themselves by jumping onto counters.

Tips to Prevent Counter Surfing

Now that you understand why dogs counter surf, let’s delve into how you can prevent it from happening. These methods will require some patience and consistency, but their effectiveness is worth the effort.

1. Keep Counters Clean and Clear

The most obvious solution is to keep your counters clean and free of any food or other items that may tempt your dog. Make sure to wipe all surfaces clean after preparing your meals, and leave no food on the countertops.

If you have a particularly curious or determined dog, consider investing in baby gates or barricades to block off the kitchen area when you’re not around to supervise.

2. Train Your Dog

Training your dog is crucial in preventing counter surfing. Start by teaching them the “off” command. This command is used to direct them to descend from any surface they’ve climbed onto. We highly recommend using positive reinforcement techniques, such as rewarding your dog when they choose to stay off the counter.

Keep in mind that it will probably take some time for your dog to learn this new behavior. That’s why it’s crucial to be consistent and patient with training.

You can also consider seeking help from dallastxdogtrainers.com if you want to save time, want solid results, or are struggling with training on your own.

3. Provide Mental Stimulation

As mentioned earlier, dogs may engage in counter surfing due to boredom or lack of mental stimulation. To avoid that, you want to keep them occupied throughout the day and make sure your dog has plenty of toys and activities to stay stimulated.

Interactive puzzle toys and games that require problem-solving are excellent options to provide mental stimulation. Regular exercise and walks can also help decrease boredom or pent-up energy that may lead to unwanted behaviors.

4. Don’t Give Up!

Consistency is key when it comes to preventing counter surfing. Make sure all family members are on the same page and uphold the same rules with your dog. If one person allows the dog to jump onto counters while the other doesn’t, it will only confuse your pet and make training more difficult.

As a last resort, you can also try using deterrents such as double-sided tape or bitter sprays on surfaces where your dog likes to jump. These products create an unpleasant sensation that will discourage them from jumping up again.


Counter-surfing is a common behavior in dogs, but it can be frustrating for owners and potentially dangerous for dogs. Fortunately, understanding why dogs engage in this behavior and consistently using prevention strategies can help curb counter-surfing.

If you keep your counters clean, provide plenty of mental stimulation for your furry friend, and stay patient and consistent, you can train your dog to stay off counters.

Good luck, and remember, if things go south— we’re always here to help!

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